Cheryl Tiegs nears 60!

January17/ 2000

… When Kennedy was Shot … When Armstrong Walked on The Moon … When Michael Hit The Jumper … When you first saw Cheryl Tiegs in “that fishnet swimsuit” … Sports Illustrated’s 2005 Swimsuit Edition – a baby boomer mainstay, hit the newsstand this week.  BobLee looks at this publishing icon and its relevance in a 2005 “Girls Gone Wild” culture. 

   The Year 1978 … the Place, The Brazilian Jungle … “I remember it was the end of the day’s light – a gray, crappy day,” says photographer Walter Iooss, “Cheryl was mad because she thought I was paying too much attention to another model.”

Where does “Cheryl Tiegs in that fishnet swimsuit” fit among the pantheon of American culture caught on film?  The Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima … John John saluting his daddy’s casket … Marilyn standing over the steam grate … Nixon’s farewell as he boarded the helicopter ???  You do your own prioritizing but “that picture” and what its appearance in a mainstream “sports publication” in 1978 says about the evolution of our culture cannot be denied.  Cheryl Tiegs Is Almost 60!.

   When any cultural phenomenons spawn their own lasting tradition, that merits a special rank.  With SI’s Swimsuit issue it has always been “the angry letters”.  It was finally revealed that the annual indignant letters from the school librarians were being generated by fraternity boys from the Ivy League.

   I confess to being a red-bloodied hetero baby boomer and recall perusing “the swimsuit issues” over the years, especially in the late 70s and early 80s.  Cheryl Tiegs (now 57 and on the backside of four marriages) caused me a few hormonal moments.  As did “Annette” as a Mouseketeer and as Frankie Avalon’s beach bunny.  The “two-piece” that Annette wore in those Beach Party movies had more square inches of fabric than all the suits worn by all the SI girls combined.

… Christie Brinkley popularized “hips” and Kathy Ireland proved that “you didn’t have to be blond”.  I was otherwise preoccupied during the Elle McPherson, Paulina Porizkova, and Heidi Klum eras. Once the European Model Invasion began I lost touch completely.


   If porn purveyors of any “core” depended on BobLee bucks to buy their supper, they would all be skinnier than these women.  Its not my vice of choice.  I am not qualified to discuss its deleterious effects on the sap levels of American males.  Did Cheryl’s fishnet or Christie’s hips contribute to sex crimes and/or disruptive households over the years?  Did they drive 40-ish guys into “middle age craziness” figuring they were entitled to such a treat before they died … probably.  It was Ms Brinkley in her little red sports car that so bedeviled Clark Griswold on his Vacation.


   For most even today, the SI girls personify “the dog chasing the car … what would you do with it if you ever caught it?”  From Cheryl’s “nothing left to the imagination” fishnet right up to the current issue, it’s really just about 4 square inches of fabric different from Playboy or Penthouse.  However a fella wants to rationalize it is between him and his conscious

   I go back to the early 60s with what I call “barbershop magazines” … Argosy, Saga, Male, etc.  These were newsstand publications famous for their provocative art covers and stories of scantily-clad damsels in dire distress … usually from Nazi or Japanese prison guards or cannibal tribesmen. I’m pretty sure that neither Gloria Steinem nor Bishop Sheen much approved of those examples of porno pulp. Us kids would put one of the “girlie magazines” inside of a Field & Stream and try to read the story before one of the five barbers called “next”.  The “girls” were usually artists’ versions of the “Vargas” gendre.  Why nurses on Guadacanal wore stiletto heels and Daisy Duke shorts was never explained, but the Japanese Defamation League definitely did not have approval over those stories.

   Where does the SI Swimsuit Issue fit in in 2005 when Girls Gone Wild promos are all over the cable channels.  The NFL sidelines with their tribute to spandex and pulchritude play to the same base instincts … and don’t seem to hurt for an audience.  Anyone with a modem can make a few clicks and see photoshoped nudes of everyone from Britany and J-Lo to Florence Nightingale and Dolly Madison.  Usually those are “fakes” but the audience for whom they are intended don’t seem to mind too much.

Towns that just a dozen years ago fought the invasion of “Hooters” now have full-fledged “nudie bars” just down the street from Cracker Barrel and Bob Evans.  The “nudie bar” in our town recently brought in some “famous” midget stripper???

   No, Sports Illustrated is NOT selling swimsuits or exotic island paradises.  They are selling 99.9% nekkid wimmen to goggle-eyed kids and goggle-eyed adult kids.  I guess it could be a trans-generational bonding moment if a 12-year old, his 40-year old dad, and his 65-year old granddad sat down at the kitchen table and “checked’em out”.  “Lordy, look at the pretty hair on that one” … “that one sure does have pretty eyes.  Kinda favors your sister a bit don’t she.” … “No, Dad, she don’t look nuthin at all like my sister!”

   I profess to pretty much no understanding of what Lesbians “look for” in looking at 99.9% nekkid wimmen but there ain’t but so much to look at … ya got your basic face, hair, breasts, hips, legs, and feet and toes for the fetish types.  I suppose Lesbians enjoy the Swimsuit Issue too.

   Wives likely have mixed emotions about this annual mid February ritual.  You can count on about 2 weeks after Paxutawney Phil appears so will a SI with a beautiful 99.9% nekkid girl on the cover.  Since I don’t see many of these gals at the Food Lion or pumping their own at the BP Station, I don’t think ladies in my town look exactly like the SI gals.  Not to say there are not some very pretty ladies in my town … probably in Henderson and Rocky Mount too.

   The popularity of this phenomenon is undeniable.  In Cheryl’s day it was a 7-8 page section.  Now it has its own separate issue.  This one has 221 pages.  All the gals are pretty so its really comes down to hair preferences.  The bodies are all perfect to the 2005 version of perfect.  I suppose you go thru the magazine and decide which one’s pouty lips are calling your name and whose smoldering eyes are searching for yours.

…Cover gal (Carolyn Murphy) could be Cheryl Tiegs’ daughter… from what I recall of that image from 26 years ago.

   My real objection, not to be prudish, is a double truck ad on page 32-33 of an upcoming movie “Sahara”.  “Sahara” is a movie version of a Clive Cussler “Dirk Pitt” adventure.  I know “Dirk” pretty well and I’m not sure he would want to be associated with such as this.  “Dirk” is more the National Geographic or Soldier of Fortune kinda guy.


Swagger’s Stumper

Who did Elroy and Judy’s Daddy work for?


   Rocky Mount’s Jim Clack was a guard/center on those great Steeler Super Bowl teams of the mid 70s.  Jim was a 1969 grad of Wake Forest.  Former Deacon Ricky Proehl also has a ring and three SB appearances in his fine career; but Ricky isn’t from Rocky Mount.

   BobLee’s appearance in Rocky Mount was a fine time.  UNC legend Danny Talbott was on hand to greet me along with Marion The Barbarian Barnes.  Also ran into looooong time buddy Reid Parrott and UNC classmate Bunn Woodard.  Lots of fine folks over in Rocky Mount.  But, remember, I go looking for them.

   Had a special “thrill” last week.  A bona fide “mega loonie” e-mailed me an unsolicited psychoanalysis.  Anyone with OVER 3,000 POSTS on a message board is, trust me, “a mega loonie”.  It was like receiving dietary advice from Jeffrey Dahlmer. 

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